Question: You seem to
have a bad attitude toward book dealers. How come? What's the most you ever paid
for a Freddy book?
Answer: Let me describe the behavior of some book dealers I witnessed once
upon a time at an annual AAUW used book sale, and then perhaps you will understand
my so-called "bad attitude." Now the purpose of this book sale is to raise
money for the AAUW. Fine. But it's also a chance for people without a lot
of money to buy books at reasonable prices--right? Well, I showed up about
an hour before the doors were to open just to chat with other early birds about
books and reading and to be among the first to enter so I could find one of the
Mushroom Planet books by Eleanor Cameron before the book dealers got in
there. As I approached the longish line waiting to get in, I recognized several
of the hyenas already at the head of the line. I had seen some of them in action
before at other books sales, so I knew what was coming. They looked jumpy and
twitchy, and although they were talking among themselves, you could tell that
they didn't much like the fact that there were so many of their own kind there.
The ones at the very head of the line kept looking in the door and scoping the
situation out. It's a wonder they didn't pull out binoculars to scan the tables,
for God's sake, or start snapping or tearing at each other. And what a sorry
display they put on when the doors finally opened! They ran into the room
and began scooping up armloads of books from the tables and dumping them into
huge canvas sacks. Some of them worked in pairs--one would run from table to table
and the other would guard the mounting stack of books the runner would drop off
when the load got too heavy. Enough to turn your stomach, isn't it. The
rest of us did our best to peruse the tables we were actually interested in as
readers, but it was not unusual to have one of these greedy scavengers
rudely jostle you as he or she reached across you and grabbed for a book. Now
their loathsome behavior should be enough to sour anyone on book dealers. But
here's what really burned me up. When I had paid my entrance fee and gotten
my hand stamped, I went directly to the tables with children's literature on them
to look for Mrs. Cameron's Time and Mr. Bass. There were already four or
five dealers working those tables like a flock of carrion-picking vultures,
so I didn't have much hope, but I started looking anyway. Darned if I didn't see
the book on the other side of the second table I went to, but before I could reach
across to get it, one of the dealers snatched it away. Well, all the children's
books were going for fifty cents, so I approached the dealer and offered him a
dollar for it. He actually chuckled at me and said, "I don't think so.
If you want it, you can buy it in my store." He then gave me the name and location
of his store and raced off to grab more books. Well, poop-poop-a-doop, I thought
to myself, and went about my business. I did find copies of Dr. Dolittle in
the Moon, Roger Penrose's The Emperor's New Mind, Philip Dick's Martian
Time-Slip, Umberto Eco's Travels in Hyperreality, and How To Be
Your Dog's Best Friend by the monks of New Skete, so I didn't feel as though
the whole trip to the sale was a complete wash. But that business about
Time and Mr. Bass--well, it kind of stuck in my craw. So here's what I
did. About a week later I had Mrs. U. call that bookdealer up and ask if he had
any Eleanor Cameron titles in stock and if so, how much they would be. He told
her he had just come across a nice copy of Time and Mr. Bass and
he could let her have it for $55.00. Fifty-five dollars! What was the markup
on that!? He had paid a lousy fifty cents for it, and now he was holding
it for fifty-five dollars ransom? I suppose there must be some decent
used book dealers out there. They couldn't possibly all be scaly bottom
feeders, could they? But my general experience with the lot of them has left me
with...yes, indeed, a bad attitude. No one minds someone making a reasonable
profit for his or her efforts, but some book dealers are in a class all their
own. Of course, this is just my opinion based on my experiences
with some of them.
What was the most I ever paid
for a Freddy book? Well, I completed the set back in the '70s largely through
the assistance of Mr. Frances Klenett, a Brooklyn, New York, bookseller. He
was a most courteous and helpful gentleman and always dealt fairly and reasonably
with me. I went through my scrapbooks, and in the 1976 volume I found the following
note from Mr. Klenett. I think the title mentioned in it was the last I needed.
Note the price, the most I ever paid for a Knopf Freddy book.
Mr. Klenett underestimated
the condition. It is a good+ first edition, and it has a dust jacket, not that
that matters very much to me. I thought the book may have been a little on the
expensive side back then, but I saw essentially the same book advertised for $300
on the Internet today. N. B. This topic always seems to get me going,
and I think since you all know my feelings on it by now, I will henceforth disregard
all further questions about book dealers, the prices of Freddy books, etc.
Question: I think some
of Freddy Bean's poetry is quite good. Why do you call it "vile"?
Answer: You think you've read all his poetry, don't you. You probably even
have the Collected Poems into which "Uncle Walter" inserted some
of Freddy's own poetry alongside his own? Well, here's one you haven't seen--the
final draft of a previously unpublished "Freddy" poem. I believe this is one of
his earlier "works." Later he did turn something out called "Thoughts on Teeth"
(which Mr. Brooks incorporated in his Freddy and Simon the Dictator), but
I found this unpublished poem "Teeth" stuck in one of the Beans' picture albums
along with a rejection letter from a literary magazine. Read it and you'll see
why I think his "poetry" is vile.
by Frederick Bean
Fangs, tusks, bicuspids, molars--
Call them what you will...
Sans teeth, choppers, eater-uppers
You couldn't eat your fill.
Toss in oatmeal, toss in porridge,
shovel in hominy grits.
Throw in farina and other forage!
Teeth grind 'em quickly to bits.
And now to tougher foods we
like steak and hard little peas.
Your pearly whites, your gnashing denture-
-s handle them with ease.
So brush your teeth with daily
Don't neglect them, if you please.
The cavities in them'll only get bigger,
and hurt more than the sting of bees.
So, what do you think now?
I know what I think. I think I'll toss this "poem" right into the trash.
Question: Is all
the stuff on your site copyrighted? Do I have to ask your permission to quote
or copy your stuff?
Answer: Yes, it is and yes, you do. EHA Industries and the
Disney organization are much alike in this respect; however, we are much
more liberal in granting permission to quote or copy our "stuff." The terms
are simple: always ask first, always give us credit, and, if you are copying or
quoting our material on a Web site, we'd very much appreciate a link to Mr.
Eha's Place. Is this not reasonable? Yes, it is. The Board of Managers thanks
you for your cooperation in this matter.
Question: I sent in
a question a long time ago, but you never answered it. How come?
Answer: See my introduction to the "Short Answers..." section below. I
fear your question may have been "too weird," even though you yourself may
be perfectly normal.
Question: You seem to
be very interested in food. What is your typical daily fare?
Answer: Refer to the table below. I won't start working on my 1999 Eating
Plan until mid-December, so if you're interested in what it will be, e-mail me
after December 25.
|Bowl of Grape Nuts with
a cup of 1% milk; one very ripe medium-sized banana fried in canola oil; two slices
of buttered rye bread toast; one eight-ounce glass of orange juice (not
from concentrate); two cups of freshly-brewed coffee--black. Morning medications.
|On alternate days, either
an American cheese sandwich on multigrain bread or a chunky peanut butter
and peach jelly sandwich on Wonder Bread; five low-fat store brand potato chips;
one Golden Delicious apple; ten-ounce glass of 2% milk; two cups of freshly-brewed
coffee black with one tsp. sugar each. Midday medications.
|One cup of Pepperidge Farm
Cheddar Cheese Goldfish or five buttered saltine crackers with two sardines.
One bottle of beer if it's a really hot day (above 85); otherwise, twelve ounces
of club soda.
Sunday: Roast pork,
mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, tossed salad, steamed broccoli and cauliflower,
and one glass of Merlot.
This year, the menus
for the rest of the week follow ethnic themes; the main dish is always accompanied
by suitable side dishes and an appropriate wine. Monday: German night.
Tuesday: Italian. Wednesday: Polish. Thursday: Asian. Friday:
U.S. Regional. Saturday: Anything Goes Night! (Every other Saturday night
= dining out with Mrs. Underdunk.)
|One handful of unsalted,
roasted organic peanuts and an eight-ounce glass of filtered water. Evening medications.
Short Answers to Infrequently
Some of you have written to
ask why I bother to respond to what must be very strange questions from very strange
people. My response to you is that I believe I should answer all but the very
weirdest questions which come from a tiny minority of my readers so as not to
alienate the sensible, rational majority of my readership--who only occasionally
ask "weird" questions. And now on to the short answers....
- Let's see. Today is August
11, 1998, so that would make me 28408 days old. If I add all the digits up
that comes to 22. And then 2 + 2 = 4 and 2 X 2 = 4. So in this particular
case, you're right.
- Yes, one of my feet is
bigger than the other, but I think that's a fairly common thing. I don't think
it has anything to do with the X-ray machine in the shoe store.
- No, I'm not interested
in buying your lakeside property in Florida.
- If you think he's Jinx,
why don't you simply go up and ask him? What have you got to lose?
- That might be my
Studebaker! If you see it again, please e-mail me immediately!
- No, John McCurdy doesn't
rent out his cottage to strangers.
- I have not read anything
by Lily Wesselhoeft, but Flipwing, the Spy does sound a little interesting.
- No, I never owned a "leisure
suit." Bad taste! Very bad taste indeed!
- Ant farms do not come
with ants. You have to send in a certificate. However, your Sea Monkey®
kit comes with a batch of them, and they are very easy to hatch and care for unless
you're a member of the Centerboro High School science department.
- I think the companies who
sell bottled water are laughing all the way to the bank, yes.
- I doubt whether Richard
Albacore is going to do anything to me for my portrayal of him; I
don't think he could have lived very long anyway.
- The way I figure it, the
Martians have been visiting Earth for hundreds of thousands of years, but
I don't think they assisted with the pyramids or the Great Wall of China.
- Mrs. U. and I will be up
in Huntsville, Ontario, again during the next-to-last weekend of July 1999.
- Sheriff Higgins? Well,
he was leaning on the window bars in one of the cells when the whole thing
gave way and he fell about twenty feet to the ground. He retired on disability,
but never fully recovered, and I believe he passed away in 1961 or 1962.